Companion animal veterinary fees in Ontario are some of the highest in Canada. The good news is that there are ways to keep those costs down. The most important of those is preventative health care. Ongoing preventative care measures including annual vet checkups, vaccines, home dental care are by far the most cost-effective and life-preserving steps a caregiver can take to protect their pet’s health.
As you can see from this table, the cost of preventative care is only a fraction of the cost of reactive care. It is important to the overall health of a companion pet that you maintain regular health checks throughout the pet’s life.
In the event that a temporary shelter becomes necessary, or even a pet surrender, an animal that is not spayed/neutered or vaccinated is less welcome. It will cost the organization money will make it less likely that the pet will be successfully re-homed.
Even for pets that do not go outdoors (or only venture out with a human chaperone) accidents can happen. Pets with intact reproductive systems are more likely to attempt to run away and those that succeed often end up with unwanted litters. There are also associated issues with ‘intact’ pets such as aggressive behaviour in males that may result in injury and mammary tumors in females.
Heartworm is one of the most preventable animal ailments (often administered as a flavoured treat by the veterinarian). However, untreated animals who get heartworm must undergo dangerous and costly treatments in order to eliminate it.
It goes without saying that the cost of dealing with any illness that could have been prevented with a vaccine is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of these illnesses can have quite severe outcomes. As puppies or kittens, pets need two vaccines to ensure immunity develops. They then require a booster every one to three years to maintain this immunity.
Vaccinations are required by law and the rabies vaccine is particularly important due to the risk of transfer to humans!
Ensure your pet is fully protected – follow the recommendation of your veterinarian and have your pet vaccinated regularly.
For more about vaccinations for pets – read this article
While dental care may not be your pet companion’s favourite activity (or your’s for that matter), the cost of dealing with dental issues that arise from years of neglect can be huge. Keeping in mind that the average dog has 42 teeth and the average cat has 30, the cost of extraction at $500 to $800 per tooth can be overwhelming. Not to mention the unspoken suffering an animal with tooth decay must endure.
The most common condition veterinarians find at annual check-ups is dental disease. It is estimated that by the age of three, 70% of our pets will have some degree of dental disease. The sooner it is caught, the sooner a veterinarian can perform a scale and polish (in exactly the same way as at our own dentist, but with some anesthetic to hold them still!) and extract any problem teeth to help your pet hang on to fresh breath for as long as possible.
Left untreated, dental disease can lead to other health problems, including liver and heart disease, so the sooner it is caught, the better the long-term health of your pet.
Here are more tips for dental health.
How often you take your pet to the vet depends on your pet’s age and general health. For example, puppies, kittens and senior pets need more frequent visits, while healthy adults need less.
We’re all nervous about the cost of vet visits. When we keep in mind that preventative health care can keep our pets healthier longer, and are likely to save us money in the long term, then it makes sense to choose to do an annual wellness exam.
Think of it as routine maintenance and a chance to discuss any concerns with your vet.